Let’s face it - the holidays are a flurry of activity and engagements from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Yes, some of us have it easier than others but we all need a little TLC over the holidays to stay sane. Invite yourself to take a moment and develop a strategy for holiday resilience this year. It doesn’t’ have to be grandiose, rather a simple plan that you are willing to commit to.
If you are committed to your potential and recognize that it takes a certain amount of effort to stay healthy and that it is not an innate gift that you can take for granted then you know what I mean.
Take a few moments right now and think about your foundation. What are you currently doing that helps you sustain and maintain your health? Is it eating healthy, exercising, spending quality time with loved ones? Whatever you come up with commit to maintaining those rituals over the next month. These are your golden habits that are creating a wealth of energy and vitality within you. Just like mining for gold it takes time to really see the results of your investment, but after a few years of commitment the results become more tangible.
Now it is time to stretch your limits slightly. You recognize that it takes effort to stay resilient over the holidays and you have a level of effort you are maintaining currently, but the holidays are a whole different beast and may take a little more resolve than what you needed during the summer months.
So choose three practices you are not currently doing that you imagine would make you feel great. Consider these seven strategies and get started improving your holiday resilience.
Water is our lifeblood and with the frenetic holiday pace we can forget to stay hydrated which will aggravate the vata dosha by increasing dryness in our body. Vata is already increased from the movement and activity of the holidays and so this strategy can have profound effects. If you work in front of a computer consider setting a pop up every hour to remind you to drink. If you spend a lot of time in the car make sure you have a full water bottle stashed there. Setting yourself up for success is the key to maintaining this strategy long term.
For many of us we will put on a few extra pounds over the holidays. If this is a concern for you then committing to a consistent exercise routine will stop the pounds from pooling around your waist and hips. Find an activity that you enjoy like walking or yoga and do it daily. If you already are committed to exercising daily consider increasing the amount of time that you exercise by 15-30 minutes. Exercise and movement burn off the kapha that accumulates from the rich foods and constant grazing that is common over the holidays.
Sugar and sweets are common indulgences over the holidays. Refined sugar leaches nutrients from the body and promotes poor calcium metabolism. By swishing sesame oil for 3-5 minutes before or after brushing your teeth you can help protect the enamel of the teeth. This practice may also help to whiten the teeth if they are getting stained from too many caffeinated beverages.
Eating more cooked or steamed veggies is good for you all the time, but over the holidays we tend to favor meat and complex carbohydrates. By starting your day with some steamed kale or broccoli you can make sure that you are starting off right.
Here is a recipe from the Winter Home Cleanse for oatmeal with veggies. Try this or make up your own.
Beet, Apple & Spinach Oatmeal Recipe
Soak raisin in 1 cup of filtered water overnight in a saucepan. The next morning bring water to a boil and add all ingredients except for spinach and hemp milk Add more water if necessary and cook for 5-10 minutes adding spinach at the very end. Add hemp milk to cool and serve.
Although Ayurveda does not recommend traditional cleansing practices during this time certain cleansing rituals will help you get on track. For example a cleanse can be any reduction to your diet, thoughts or routines.
Baths are relaxing and invigorating. Make time weekly to take a bath with Epsom salts. This will help reduce your experience of stress and improve your sleep.
Foods that contain common food allergens like wheat, dairy, and sugar are a mainstay of holiday rituals. Make an effort to reduce your consumption of these foods by choosing other options. At every gathering, there are usually many options so unless you can’t find anything else to eat it is best to choose vegetables, grains, and beans when that choice is available.
Now write down the three strategies that you are most willing to commit to this season. Then choose the one that you are the most likely to be successful with. For the one that you have prioritized think about what you will do directly before it. If you have chosen to swish with sesame oil think about brushing your teeth and then swishing. If you have chosen to take a bath think about lighting candles and filling up the bathtub and creating an inviting space in your bathroom. Whatever it is take a minute now to think about what activities you will do directly before your chosen strategy for holiday resilience. On a sticky note write down your strategy and place the piece of paper somewhere that you will see it every day. Some suggestions are: on the mirror, in your journal, on the refrigerator or on your steering wheel. Each time you see it think of what you have planned directly before doing it. Now you are on track for the best holidays yet!
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